Building An Event
So, you've mastered the three- to five-minute sketch. But now the pastor wants you to fill the usual 30-minute preaching slot with drama while he's on vacation. Or the outreach committee has decided that a 45-minute program of drama would be the perfect seeker event. Where do you get scripts to fill that much time? Obviously, you can scour play catalogs for an appropriate length play. But you could also take several topically related short sketches and link them together to create a unified program.
Start by selecting a theme that fits with the purpose of the event, and then look for scripts that illustrate that theme. One way to find them is to use the topic search feature here at DramaMinistry.com.
Choose scripts that vary in tone, style, humor and pace. While all of the pieces need to be connected, if they are too similar, they will become increasingly less impressive to the audience. This is true even of the very best written pieces. Mix in serious drama with comedy, or vary the styles of comedy by following a comedy based on language with one based on physical humor. However, the differences between neighboring sketches should not be so vast as to jar the audience.
In deciding sketch order, begin by settling on your first and last pieces. The first piece sets the mood for the evening, so it should reflect your purpose and be enough of an attention-grabber to hold the audience's interest from the get-go.
Choose the last piece based on what you want the audience to think or feel as they leave. If the evening was meant to make your audience laugh, end with your funniest comedy. If the intent was to be thought-provoking, leave them with your meatiest script. All the preceding scripts should then build to this one.
Now plan how to move from one sketch to the next. What will connect the pieces and fill the pauses while you take one scene away and set up the next?
One option is to use an emcee. This person can fill the gap with jokes and stories or by a scripted setup of the next scene. When appropriate, the emcee can also read some Bible verses.
Another way to fill the gaps is to use a running sketch that doesn't need the stage space. For a comedy night at our church, we had two actors sit on the side of the stage, pretending to be two of our pastors in the audience. During the scene shifts, they made jokes on the previous act, à la Statler and Waldorf, the two old men from the Muppet Snow.
Music is another option. Select songs that bring the audience appropriately out of the preceding scene and sets the mood for the next. The music can be pre-recorded or performed live.
Theme, variety, order and transitions. Voila! You have just created a fulfilling, unified event.